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Southern Double-collared Sunbird - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Cinnyris chalybeus)
Male; subspecies chalybeus
Photo © by Mybs
Kirstenbosch, near Cape Town, South Africa
Cinnyris chalybeus

Nectarinia chalybea

Lesser Double-collared Sunbird


L. 12 cm (5"), mass 8 g.


  • Head, back, rump, throat and upper breast iridescent green.
  • Wings iridecent green with dark brown flight feathers.
  • Upper tail coverts iridescent blue.
  • Upper breast band very narrow and iridescent blue
  • Lower breast band red.
  • Lower breast and belly grey.


  • Grey-brown, with faint olive wash on mantle and wing coverts
  • Olive-yellow tinge on belly, flanks and vent.
  • Tail brownish black.

Eclipse Male

  • Mainly grey-olive but retaining a metallic sheen to the lesser wing-coverts and upperparts as well as isolated metallic feathers on its head and remnant of red breast-band.


  • Resembles female
Female; subspecies subalaris.
Photo © by Alan Manson
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Similar Species

Male is Similar to Greater Double-collared Sunbird but smaller with shorter bill and narrower red breast band.
Female is similar to female Orange-breasted Sunbird but is greyer below and darker than female Dusky Sunbird


South Africa, eSwatini and extreme southern Namibia.


This is a polytypic species. There are three subspecies.[1]

  • C. c. subalaris
  • Eastern South Africa (Eastern Cape to Limpopo) and eSwatini.
  • Longer bill, broader breast-band and darker overall than nominate; female greener and darker.
  • C. c. albilateralis
  • Northwestern South Africa (western Northern Cape).
  • Poorly differentiated. Not recognized by IOC[4], H&M4[3], HBW[2] or Roberts[5].
  • C. c. chalybeus

This species has been split from what later became the two Miombo Sunbirds with which it forms a superspecies. Most of the Sunbirds (including this one) formerly in the genus Nectarinia have been moved into the genus Cinnyris.


Fynbos and Karoo shrublands, woodland, forest, forest edge, gardens and plantations.


Forages at all levels in canopy. A primary pollinator of the milkweed Microloma sagittatum.


Mainly nectar, but also invertebrates.


Nest constructed by female, compact, oval or pear shaped, mostly made out of cobwebs and lined with feathers. One to three eggs incubated by female. Young fed by both parent.


Harsh "cherr-cherr;" fast warbling rising and falling song.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Cheke, R. & Mann, C. (2018). Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/60025 on 23 June 2018)
  3. Dickinson, EC, ed. 2014. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 4th ed. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0956861122
  4. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2018. IOC World Bird List (v8.1). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.8.1. Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  1. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  2. Sinclair, I., Hockey, P.A.R., and Arlott, N. (2005). The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town. ISBN 978-1775840992

Recommended Citation

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